There are so many different types of insurance out there that businesses are expected to have. One that gets a lot of attention, but that sounds oddly vague, is ‘General Liability Insurance’. This kind of insurance covers a lot of the common lawsuits that tend to hit small businesses. These are the lawsuits that can relate to things such as copyright infringement, injuries to customers, falls on your property, damage to your property or damage to a customer’s property relating to work that you do, and even things such as libel and slander.

For many small business owners, navigating the complexities of insurance can b a struggle. What insurance do you really need? Will General Liability Insurance really help you? Is there other cover that you should have as well?  The answer, as is all too common in the world of business, is “it depends”.

Most Businesses Should Have General Liability Cover

While most states do not legally require companies to have Commercial General Liability Insurance, it is something that almost every business would benefit from.  This kind of cover can help to pay for lawsuit-related expenses, such as lawyer’s fees, evidence costs, and damages that you might be asked to pay out.

It is important to understand, however, that general liability insurance pays only for lawsuits that are filed against your company by a third party – a member of the public, or a customer, for example. It does not cover lawsuits filed against your business by an employee. There is a separate form of cover called Employers Liability that relates to your employees. Employer’s liability insurance covers things such as injury in the workplace and is a must-have for any business.

General Liability Insurance is not usually a legal requirement, however, many shopping malls, offices, and landlords require businesses to have it before they will allow a company to use their premises, so that they know that they have an extra layer of protection for the members of the public in the area. Some local authorities may require a contracting company, such as a builder, to have it as well, so that they do not need to worry about damage to other properties, or passer’s by, as a result of work that the contractors do.

What Can General Liability Insurance Protect You From?

General liability insurance is a fairly broad package, and it covers a lot of different potential claims, for example, it may protect you from:

– Advertising claims:  If someone were to sue you for false advertising or for copyright infringement, then general liability insurance may protect you from that.

– Slander or libel lawsuits: Slander is verbal defamation and libel is written defamation. If you ever speak negatively about a competitor and they try to take you to court, then having general liability insurance could save you.  It is important to understand the seriousness of slander and libel, however. The best policy is to just not make claims that could land you in court in the first place!

– Medical bills: If a third party slips and falls and gets injured, then claims their medical costs, then you may find that general liability insurance will cover them. Indeed, the cover is often called slip and fall cover because members of the public claiming for injury after slipping and falling in a place of business is a common thing that general liability insurance ends up covering.

The policies can help with lawyer’s fees, court costs, and even court judgements.

What Does It Not Cover?

While general liability insurance is something that does offer a wide range of cover, there are some things that are excluded, above and beyond that of employee injuries and claims which have already been mentioned.  For example, if you miss a deadline or go over budget and are sued for that, then you will find that this is not covered in the claim. You will need something like errors and omissions insurance to cover that.

General liability insurance will also not cover damage to your own property. You should have insurance for your premises and its contents, and for any tools that you take off-site.  Note that even commercial property insurance has limits for what it will cover, so you will need to be careful with that.

Every business should have extensive insurance. It can be tempting to try to skimp on cover, but this is a huge false economy, and it may even harm your business. Even if you don’t end up needing to make a claim, general liability insurance is something that people expect you to have, and they will expect professional indemnity, products liability, etc. as well. If you don’t have those things, then people may quite rightly be reluctant to work with you.

So, shop around and start getting quotes. Make sure that the quote is the right amount for your business and you will be well positioned to avoid difficulties in the future. There is no point paying for insurance that you won’t use, but there is also no point in having too little cover. Claims and legal fees can be hugely expensive and could cripple an otherwise thriving business. If you want to have the peace of mind that a malicious customer or rival, or a disaster, theft or other unexpected event will not hurt your business at the worst possible moment, then you need to have that insurance.

You can shop around and get quotes online from, and it is worth checking each year to make sure that you are getting the best possible deal. You can often save money by switching provider every couple of years. You would do the same for your other suppliers, so why not do it for insurance too.

Whatever industry you are in, taking the time to make sure that you have all the relevant cover will help to ensure that your business will prosper, and that your income, and that of your employees, will be protected no matter what.

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